Get a glimpse inside South Korean newsrooms with the KACS media scholarship

As 2019 draws to a close, it’s a good time to look ahead and read-up on opportunities for Australia-Korea engagement that await in 2020. If you are currently studying Media or Journalism in an Australian university and have an interest in Korea, the KACS Media Scholarship is definitely something to have on your radar!

Interested in non-Media specific opportunities? Make sure to check out the Study section of our website for detailed overviews of various programs and scholarship options, particularly when it comes to Korean Language Programs and Postgraduate Study.

About the KACS’s Media Scholarship

Korean Australian Community Support Incorporation (KACS) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2014 with the support of the Korean Consulate in Sydney and the Korea Foundation. One of KACS’​ landmark initiatives is to provide those who study journalism or media at Australian universities with scholarships to visit Korea and learn more about the country’s history, cultural landscape and media industry. The 10-day scholarship promotes academic and cultural exchange between Korea and the rest of the world, with a goal of deepening future engagement between the Australian media and Korea. More broadly, the scholarship aims to contextualise the Australian experience and generate a long-lasting interest in international affairs by exposing young journalists to different media systems.

We sat down with one of the scholarship’s first recipients, and the Co-President of KACS, Elliott Brennan, to chat about his experiences and gain some insight into the program.

What drew you to apply for the program? Did it meet your expectations?

I had worked previously at the Korea Herald, an English-language paper, which gave me a good insight into the expat community in the country as well as those Koreans wanting to hone their English, but I really wanted to gain a sense of the broader media environment in South Korea. The program was excellent for this and so much more.

In a jam-packed week we had meetings with important people across the media, business and even high-level government sectors. The access was incredible. Everyone was happy to meet with us and talk candidly about their country. Somehow our wonderful guides even managed to fit in tourist activities!

How did your perception of Korea change after the program? Were there any most memorable culture shock movements that stood out?

After the program, I felt like I had a more nuanced understanding of Korean society. Having already spent close to two months in the country earlier in 2015, I had already ticked off most of my culture shock items, but we were all a bit surprised by just how conservative the views held by members of the conservative government at the time were. To their credit, they fielded the genuinely curious questions we had with grace and a patient ear.

What are the unique insights that you gain from the program’s industry immersion, as opposed to more general tourist or study experiences?

[The industry immersion was] really the key to it. The agenda is designed to foster understanding, rather than simply show off the country. One of the bigger differences between Australia and South Korea is the work culture, so being given the chance to see that first-hand in huge media organisations, as well as in chaebols and in the government – I don’t think any number of tourist stops will give you that insight.

What was your favourite part of the program and why?

Personally, I loved the chance to visit the Yonhap News Agency. As a young journalist at the time, so much of the news I saw about South Korea carried the Yonhap by-line, so it was wonderful to watch the news wires get sent out firsthand.

In your opinion, particularly given your continued involvement with KACS, how has the program evolved over the years?

I’m so happy – and even a little bit jealous – to see what the subsequent scholars have been able to experience. The program has expanded to allow time for an army immersion, which by all accounts has become the highlight of the program. I think this is an excellent way to bring young Australians and young Koreans together. It sounds very challenging, but also like a lot of fun. It’s also heartwarming to see the community that we’ve built back in Australia. The 2015 cohort has stayed in touch with each other and several times a year we get together with the members of subsequent years to compare notes, share stories, food, and soju!


Special thanks to Christina Guo, Elliott’s fellow scholarship recipient, for sharing photos from the trip that are included in this article. To see more of her work, please visit: https://www.sketchandrun.com/

Looking ahead…

2020 Applications for the KACS Media Scholarship will open early next year. If you are interested in finding out more about the program, feel free to reach out to Elliott through LinkedIn or email (ebre5300(at)gmail.com). You can also check out this SBS interview with some of the 2016 Scholarship Recipients.

Leave a Reply